or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Holiday Hours

   December 21st, 2006

Librarian with an MLISI know this may be opening a can of very sensitive worms, but I wanted to mention it anyway. When I was in library school, a very frequent topic of conversation (and term papers) was library paraprofessionals.

Discussion ranged from whether non-degreed library staff should be allowed to work unsupervised to whether or not an MLIS degree was even necessary to work in a library. For every story about a wonderful paraprofessional, there was another about some crotchety miser (which is also true of degreed librarians). No one knew where to draw the line.

Well, I just figured it out. For the holidays, my library is going to be closed Sat/Sun/Mon of both Christmas and New Years weekends. It is not surprising to be closed the Sunday and Monday of each weekend, but being closed both Saturdays is kind of gratuitous.

When I told three of the four paraprofessionals that work at the reference desk for me about being closed on those Saturdays, their response was "hooray, an extra day off." But when I told the fourth staffer, her response was "that's ridiculous - there's no reason people shouldn't have access to the library on those Saturdays."

I was so impressed - my own reaction to the closings was to be happy for the days off, too, but this non-librarian's response reminded me why libraries are here in the first place. Not as just a way to pay my bills, but for the benefit of the patrons.

So now, when I draw the line between "good" staff and "bad" staff, regardless of degree, it is drawn between those library employees who try to keep people out of the library and those that try to get people in the library.

libraries, library, MLIS, MLS, paraprofessional, paraprofessionals

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